We arrive at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, in time to celebrate a late Thanksgiving dinner with my brother Rollie and his fiance, Tata. A few days later they park their Class A next to us, which allows for daily morning coffee together and the sharing of news and activities.
The first days here are centered around reorganizing cupboards and drawers, as being here for the winter means we have a lot of stuff to keep tidy and organized, and Clifford is focused on getting antennas up for his ham radio. Other than that, I go for daily walks, exploring the desert around us, especially enjoying taking photos at sunrise and sunset.
Sunrise in the Desert
Exploring the Desert
The wind is an issue, but we spend as much time outside as possible and set up a nice space by the largest of the mesquite trees at our camping spot, planning for sun, shade, privacy, and protection from the wind. One must be flexible!
Even though I had been posting a daily “Higher Vibration” photo every single day for well over a year, the last month has caused too much disruption in my life, so I’m not keeping track of the days any longer, but I do post a photo on social media almost every day. There is almost always something on the daily meanderings that is worthy of being considered a “Higher Vibration.”
Setting sun reflection on Shale Mountain
Saguaro at Sunset
The awareness of my surroundings gives me more appreciation for the desert, as well as appreciation for life itself. I can only hope that I am drawing good vibes, not only to myself, but to the whole world.
By mid-November, my daughter Katie, who has been here for the past week, returns to her family and business in Idaho. I have so enjoyed and appreciated having her company and all that she has done to support me in recovery from a stroke earlier this month.
My life feels different, even though in most ways it is not obvious, even to people who see me often. I can walk, talk, write, use my cell phone, cook meals, do laundry, and so on. Playing the viola, a newer skill in my life, has suffered. Fortunately, cello (over 50 years of synapses in place) is still fine. The new hiking sticks I ordered arrive and I can go for longer walks by myself with greater assurance. Town is not an interesting place to walk and the wind is annoying, but walking is an essential part of recovery, so I do it. It should be more interesting to walk when we are camped in the Arizona desert.
Bouquet from a Friend
My favorite Monticello tree at sunrise
Our route has been modified from southeast Arizona being the destination to Quartzsite in southwest Arizona, the reason being that I have to wear a heart monitor that sends signals via cell service. Across the Navajo Reservation and in the regions of southeast Arizona where we had planned to go, there is no cell service. Better to be where we know our way around. Maybe southeast Arizona in the spring.
There is a dusting of snow the day before our planned departure shortly before Thanksgiving, but by the following morning, the weather looks favorable for travel. We finish packing and are on our way by late morning. Abajo Mountain looks pretty with its dusting of snow.
Due to Covid, travelers are not welcome to stop on the reservation, so our first day is a long haul from Monticello to a forest road just north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Crossing the Navajo Reservation
It is a relief to arrive at the forest road and get set up for the night.
North of Flagstaff, Arizona
It is 21 degrees the next morning, Thanksgiving morning.
Clifford makes us breakfast and then we head for tonight’s destination, Badger Springs parking area just off I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix, trashy, but convenient. Shortly after we arrive, several emergency vehicles, including three fire engines, come in and head on up the road to the springs. And then a helicopter flies in. Something happened up there in the canyon, but we never did learn what. Thanksgiving dinner is about as simple as can be, but we appreciate it none-the-less.
Overnight at Badger Springs parking lot
The following day, we make it to our winter destination, La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. As we are driving in toward the camping area, my brother Rollie and his fiance Tata just happen to see us go by, so we have a rendezvous while we look for a campsite. The site we had the last years has been claimed by someone else, so we find another one further along the wash with a tree (a very important consideration in picking a site) and even though it is a bit close to the road, we are grateful for the tree, actually a couple of them, and get set up – home for the winter.
October has been a fun and colorful month. Rollie and Tata and I make another trip up Abajo Mountain, this time for a brief stop at Lloyd Lake on the edge of town, then on up the mountain to where Pipe Line trail joins the mountain road. The views and the colors are exceptional.
Rollie & Tata with Ninja & Fifi at Lloyd Lake
The last few days before Rollie and Tata leave are spent enjoying the nice weather, sitting outside and playing music together every day.
Tata, Fifi, and Rollie enjoy the backyard sunshine
The 24th is a blustery day, but they have intentions of getting to southern Arizona before an approaching weather front. We have plans to join them in a few days at Cochise Stronghold, one of our favorite camping spots in the southeast corner of Arizona.
Rollie and Tata on their way to Arizona
Looks like they left just in time, as the next day snow and cold are a serious reminder that winter will soon be on the way. Montana already has foot of snow and more on the way with a forecast for 0 degrees tonight. (This turns out to be a 100-year record for snow in October in Montana.)
Winter is coming soon
However, before the end of the month, with Cougar organized and packed for the winter journey and the CI Disclosure Project nearing completion, Clifford and I are able to make one last trip up Abajo.
It is a beautiful autumn day, so after a quiet morning and breakfast,
My day starts quietly with tea and journal writing
we all head up the mountain for a picnic and music. After a quick stop at Indian Creek Road for photos, we head on up to Pine Flats. As the breeze has picked up some, we find a spot that is a bit protected and set up our picnic, followed by bluegrass music.
Stopping for photos
Picnic and music on the mountain
Tata makes dinner for all of us – lentil stew and cornbread muffins. It sure is a treat to have someone else cook!
I edit one of the photos from our picnic outing at Indian Creek from a few days ago and submit it to the San Juan Record, the local newspaper. They have a weekly contest and I only recently discovered that I was sending my submissions to the wrong email address.
Photo submitted to San Jun Record
The next outing is a geode hunting expedition. The road is rugged, a jeep road only, so I am seeing mountain country that Clifford and I could never see in the Suburban. We pick up a few rocks to take back and of course, I take photos.
Jeep ride to find geodes
Mountain and desert combo
Views from the stopping place
When we go to the market to pick up groceries for dinner, I see that my photo submission is this week’s winner and featured on the front of the newspaper – Hooray!
Featured photo for this week
Tata cooks ribs for dinner and we play music while the ribs cook. I run out of time to do dishes, but get the daily higher vibration photo done – a photo from today’s outing. A good end to the day.
After my brother Rollie and his fiance Tata arrive in their motorhome and set up alongside our backyard fence in early October, in addition to shared meals and music, they help with a couple of home repair projects. Rollie is especially handy with that kind of stuff, and it is nice to have some of these projects taken care of.
Music in the backyard with Rollie ad Tata
We also walk out to US highway 491 coming into Monticello from the east, a block away, so I can show them the banners of the Community Beautification Project, four of which feature photos that I submitted.
One of my photo banners
Our next outing is a trip over Abajo Mountain to visit Newspaper Rock. For this outing, I go with Rollie and Tata in their jeep while Clifford stays in Monticello to work on the CI Disclosure Project. Our first stop is the view point on the north slope, followed by a stop at Foy Lake where the autumn foliage is especially colorful. From there we continue on to the junction with state highway 211, which leads to the southern entrance of Canyonland National Park.
View from the overlook on Abajo Mountain
Rollie and Tata, Ninja and Fifi at the overlook on Abajo Mountain
However, we are only going as far as Newspaper Rock, where we, like other visitors, admire the numerous petroglyphs that were etched into the rock face at the base of the cliff hundreds of years ago. One has to wonder about the ancient tribes and the communication that still remains.
Along nearby Indian Creek, we find a small road that offers a picnic spot with a view of the creek, the colorful rocks and the autumn foliage.
This is an especially delightful stop, and we take our time enjoying our food and the scenery before heading back to Monticello.
Back in Monticello, there are no long morning walks visiting forest tree and flower friends. The trees in and around the yard can be counted on one hand: two pines and three spruce. Two tall deciduous stand at opposite corners of the lot, but outside the fence. Perhaps they are technically on two neighboring properties, but I claim both trees as mine and tell them how lovely they are. I doubt that anyone else is doing that.
Our backyard and the trees that I claim as mine
Being back in town, the daily routine is very different and the tasks not worth mentioning except that Clifford has started on this segment of the CI Legacy Project and my part in it is to take a hand-written transcript of a three-hour talk that he gave at a conference in Santa Fe April 2019, get it into a digital format and then edit like crazy. Kudos to our friend who took the time to make the hand-written transcript from an audio file of the conference.
There are three things of interest during the first two weeks of September. One is trip up Abajo Mountain for a picnic. We are delighted that the spot were we had camped is free. We have a tasty picnic and then play music – Clifford with dulcimer, me on viola – feeling right at home.
Abajo Mountain outing
The second thing is that a Canadian cold front drops our daytime temperatures from the mid-ninety’s to a high of 39 on September 9. It snows all day long and I have the rare opportunity to take photos of trees covered with snow. Even after the cold front moves on, there is no doubt that autumn has arrived.
Canadian cold front on September 9th
The third thing is that I found out by chance that an editorial I submitted to the local newspaper, Abajo Mountain – Our Backyard Treasure, was printed in its entirety along with several photos from the blog. In my daily walks while we were camped on the mountain, I picked up trash every day and observed damage done to the forest by careless visitors and campers. I wrote a blog/editorial in praise of the treasure that we have, pointing out that some people are disregarding all the etiquette of being a good visitor to the mountains. I was very pleased that the newspaper printed the editorial.
Although I loved being on the mountain, while we are here in Monticello, we take advantage of the conveniences that our home base has to offer.
I go on longer morning walks these last days of August, since I know they will be my final opportunities to spend time in the forest.
Double Mother – Bartholomew
Dancing Scrub Oaks
Old Aspen friends
Curvy pine and aspen friends
We play music in the afternoons, sometimes zoom with the UK group, sometimes Clifford has other groups, or we each work on our own instruments. With the UK group I play viola, but on my own, I play cello, enjoying pieces that I’ve just touched on over the years. I have thoughts of playing in the little park across from the post office, so want to have a few pieces worked up in case I actually try doing that.
Rain showers in the afternoon are a welcome relief to the dry conditions here on the mountain.
Looking out at the rain on Abajo Mountain
After the rain
Rich forest color after the rain
On the 30th, since I am up before Clifford, I go for a final morning walk, but close to camp, heading off in a direction I didn’t often go, then around to say good-bye to Bertha, one of the Mother Trees I’ve enjoyed visiting. Back at camp, after breakfast, we pack up with some reluctance and head down the mountain, back to home-base and the Carnicom Institute tasks that Clifford has set up for himself.
Aspens near camp
While the word is in turmoil with covid, hurricanes, wildfires, and rioting in the cities, we have been at peace on the mountain. It is my hope that this sense of peace will remain with us as we go forward.
August 21th to 25th – Our place on the mountain is peaceful except for the occasional ATVs and motorcycles that come down our road. The world, however, seems to be in more and more of a turmoil.
My morning walks are a special time I really enjoy and I go far afield from the original loop road. I have walked here enough that I can go any direction and not worry about finding my way back. My biggest concern is the archery hunters, but hopefully I don’t look like a deer or elk to anyone. I have made up a game “forest pick-up sticks” where I have to make my way through the densest forest without stepping over deadfall, pushing through bushes, or bending under low tree branches. It’s just a bit of silliness, but it is also about awareness of how and where I am walking. Oh yes, no stepping on wildflowers.
Scrub grove on morning walk
Don’t step on the wildflowers
I enjoy playing my cello outside and Clifford likewise spends as much time as he can playing his dulcimer outside. We both play with a music group in UK via zoom (I use viola for that) and Clifford also plays and sings with three other groups. While zoom doesn’t take the place of meeting in person for those who are no longer able to because of covid, for us it is opportunity to play with others that we would not otherwise have.
Errand Day – Rose of Sharon in Monticello
On the world front: there are two hurricanes, Marco and Laura, coming into the Gulf of Mexico and they are expected to cause much havoc. At the same time, wildfires are increasing in California, while those in Colorado have not abated. Even in Montana, my sister sees smoke coming up from the ridge of the Sapphire Mountains behind their home.
Sunset on Abajo Mountain – color enhanced by forest fire smoke
Discord, controversy, and contradictions on covid protocol continue due to lack of knowledge and outright deceptions in regard to the illness.
For my part, I try to focus on what I can personally do to make a difference, and that is why I persist daily with my Higher Vibration Photo Series.
Higher Vibration Photo
Each photo and the words that come to me are meant to uplift the viewer, to bring a drop of light into the vale of darkness. It might not see like much in the face of all that surrounds us, but it is something valid and real, and I trust that in the larger scheme of things, each photo and each sentiment makes a difference for good in the world.
These are good days on Abajo Mountain. Our daytime temperatures are in the low 80’s, while in town they are mid-90’s, as I discover when I go down to do laundry and run errands.
Smoke in the valley from Colorado wildfires
The morning walks continue to be a source of outer peace so that I am better able to experience inner peace. As one wildflower fades from the scene, another takes its place and now I see thistles sporting their beautiful purple.
Sunlit grass on the morning walk
A highlight of these days is a visit from a friend who also lives in Utah. It was quite the delight to have him visit us on the mountain, and I even got to ride on his fancy motorcycle from the entrance of the dispersed area to our out-of-the way cul d sac. Such good conversation. It sure would be great to have get-togethers more often.
A ride on the fancy motorcycle
A low point for me is a discussion with Clifford as we finally decide for certain that a trip to Montana is not going to happen this summer: mostly covid, but also finances and our aging Suburban are factors. This is a great disappointment to me, but I do understand the thinking behind the decision. Great advice from one of my daughters is to have a Knowing that I will see loved ones in the future and hold that thought with joy.
We who live in Monticello or nearby have a treasure in our backyard. Abajo Mountain with its variety of trees and shrubs and flowers, campgrounds, dispersed camping areas, mountain roads and jeep trails, “lakes,” and views provides something for everyone.
Heading up Abajo Mountain
At 9,000 feet, Pine Flats where we picnic or camp is delightfully cooler in the summer than the valley below, let alone the canyon lands. A myriad of roads, sometimes rocky or rutted, lead to spots where a bit of privacy can be found, surrounded by scrub oak or shaded by great pine trees. Stands of aspen add their graceful beauty and ambiance to any stopping point.
Camping at Pine Flats in the shade of great pine trees
We have camped at Dalton Springs Campground and picnicked in the late autumn at Buckboard Campground when all campers are gone. The autumn-colored aspens on a clear fall day are quite the delight, even though sometimes it has been so chilly that we’ve ended sitting in the car for our picnic.
A picnic at Monticello Lake is a treat for us, since bodies of water or streams are a bit of a luxury in Utah. Fishermen certainly seem to appreciate Monticello, Lloyd, and Foy Lakes for their own reasons.
Autumn at Monticello Lake
The paved route over the north slope of Abajo is a most enjoyable and scenic way to make a trip to Newspaper Rock and on to the southern entrance to Canyonlands National Park.
With all this being said, not all those who go up the mountain are aware of their responsibility as stewards of the land. When we are camping, I walk daily, sometimes on the jeep trails, sometimes on game trails, and I always come back with a bag of trash I’ve picked up due to the carelessness of others. Beer cans and soda cans, tinfoil, broken glass, and so on are found even in remote spots as well as along the roads and in campfire rings.
Messy half-burned trash is ugly and attracts flies and rodents. This thoughtlessness is inexplicable, as are the ruts left by those who choose to go off-road to tear around in the forest just because they can, not because it is good for the land. The ground layer here in the forests, especially where the wild iris grow, is fragile and easily damaged.
Damage to forest floor
Even with signs prohibiting campfires during these hot dry summer months, there are campfires being built, which seems rather irresponsible and potentially dangerous under the current conditions.
We are fortunate to have Abajo only a few miles from town. Being respectful of this mountain and what it has to offer is a must for EVERYONE! “Pack it in – Pack it out” is a good start. Be mindful of forest fire season and refrain from campfires. Stay on the roads and don’t go making tracks through the forest (or other people’s campsites) with ATV’s, motorbikes, and high-clearance vehicles. Loud music and loud generators are not appropriate, especially at night. Being considerate of others and being good stewards of this land is not too much to ask of any of us.
Come and enjoy the mountain, the jeep trails, the picnic and camping spots, the fishing.
Outing on Abajo
A fisherman’s delight – Monticelllo Lake on Abajo Mountain
Most especially, be mindful of the beauty that is here on Abajo Mountain. Treasure the treasure that we have!